South to North Along the Eastern Seaboard
It is late August and we have just completed the renovation on our new home base in Woodstock. The contractors have left, the mess is cleaned up and we had the family in for a "big reveal" of the new place. It looks a lot like a beach house- all bright light, white plantation shutters and water-green colored paint on the walls. It feels like home, and that is a very good thing. Having sold our home of 35 years we have been in a state of transition for some time, so it feels good to have a place that is familiar, comfortable and permanent- at least as permanent as things are these days!
We are preparing for our New England trip and will head out on Labor Day. We had hoped to leave sooner, but it was difficult to find campgrounds available for the holiday weekend, so we just postponed until it was all over. The renovation and move took almost three months, requiring us to stay close by rather than launch another trip. But summer is waning and, with the renovation behind us, the road beckons once again.
We are anxious to get back to the shore. There is something intoxicating about the coast. No matter if it skims along the Gulf of Mexico, clings to the steep cliffs of Big Sur, or crashes into the rocky northeastern shore, it is the place we love to visit. The salt air, the expanse of water reaching towards the horizon, and the sound of waves create an ambiance for refreshing the soul and mind. For the next month or so we will follow the east coast from Georgia to Maine.
Planning a month-long RV trip requires thoughtful consideration. We have a small unit, so space is at a premium and, with a route that will traverse late summer to early fall, the clothing department will need some serious planning. Same for toys like golf clubs (for a game with friends in North Carolina), kayaks for the inlets of Cape Cod, and hiking poles for Acadia National Park. Along with a modest supply of groceries, basic linens, towels, and other necessities every cupboard, nook, and niche will be claimed.
We are pretty good at packing the RV, but items leftover from a summer of short trips will need to find their place at home. So, our strategy is to empty all the storage cabinets and repack specifically for this trip. We begin with the largest exterior storage cabinet and work our way around the unit to the smallest spaces inside. The tall, skinny nook next to the coat closet hosts a broom and my hiking poles. The drawers under the sofa accommodate paper products as well as board games, Jim's books, and my latest needlework project. The pull-out pantry holds the canned goods and a few bottles of wine while the upper cabinets house the dry goods and snacks. We will stock the fridge on the day of departure. Clothing is minimized to one drawer plus one shelf for each of us, with toiletries finding a spot in the tall medicine chest and under the bathroom sink.
The kitchen is a model of efficiency with an in-counter knife block, three narrow drawers for cooking utensils and flatware, and two upper cabinets where the dishes and glassware nest. Pots and pans have a spot too along with the pour-over coffee carafe, electric kettle, and baking pans. Without an oven, we purchased a table top version that fills the void seamlessly and finds its home in an outside compartment alongside the induction burner and crockpot. The uke and guitar share a nook behind the driver's seat and the cooler sits between the two front seats acting as an end table for maps and the laptop while holding the milk, sodas and bottled water on ice.
But there is so much more than packing to prepare for a month long trip. Planning the route, finding campgrounds, making ferry reservations, and estimating drive times have kept us spinning for the past few weeks. An invitation from a friend in North Carolina changed our route, reversing the whole plan! No regrets though, reconnecting with friends is one of the greatest joys of this kind of travel and we will visit with several others along the way, adjusting our route to accommodate those reunions.
There are matters at home to wrap up as well. The grandkids are a bit unsettled about our month-long absence, so we arranged weekly calls and little souvenir packages to send from each stop. Their parents will help them track our progress on a wall map making the trip a kind of a "Where's Waldo" for Nana and Pop! Leaving an orderly home to return to is also important, emptying the fridge, putting the food delivery service on hold, watering the plants, paying bills, and sending our itinerary to our adult children all get checked off the list as our departure approaches. Of course, there are the entertainment matters like making sure we have spare guitar and uke strings, music playlists, hobby projects and a few movies, podcasts, and e-books downloaded in anticipation of spotty WiFi service. A small motorhome gets smaller after a few rainy days!
Yet, talking about what we want to do along the way is encouragement enough to finish up the prep and get on the road. First stop is Hunting Island in South Carolina. We will move on after a few days and camp at a stop just over the North Carolina border. We will take a ferry to Ocracoke Island and then on to Cape Hatteras and Kitty Hawk. Making our way north we will visit family outside Baltimore then continue to Cape May New Jersey. A much-anticipated stop will take us to our hometown near Sandy Hook and then on to Old Mystic Connecticut. Cape Cod is just a short hop from there so we will spend a few days there before moving on to the Maine coast. On the list in Maine are Kennebunkport, Portland, Camden, Searsport, Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Then we begin the return trip.
At this point, we have not planned the return trip. Instead, we thought we would allow serendipity and campground availability dictate our route home. There are a few items on the wish list to check, so we will certainly visit Vermont and the finger lakes region of upstate New York. Apart from that, we are free wheelin' it. Many, more seasoned RVers tell us reservations may be required for holiday and weekend camping but, during a regular work week, they just aren't necessary. We thought this might be an opportunity to try that strategy. Nonetheless, we packed a directory of non-campground places that will allow RVers to park for the night- just in case!